Forty years ago Nick Castle stumbled into portraying one of the most iconic killers in horror history when he donned the pale white mask and coveralls of Michael Myers aka The Shape in 1978’s Halloween.
Castle, who would later go on to direct classic films like The Last Starfighter and The Boy Who Could Fly, had attended film school with writer/director John Carpenter, and when he found out his friend was directing a movie near his home, he called Carpenter up and asked if he could visit the set.
“He said, ‘Yeah,’ and then asked if I wanted to put on the mask and hang around the set,” Castle recalled in an interview with iHorror earlier this week. “And I said, ‘Yeah, that’s a good idea.’ That’s how it all started. There wasn’t a lot of direction. I just put on the mask and did it.”
It’s one of those Hollywood stories that’s hard to believe, but without much direction, or acting experience for that matter, Castle found a way of moving and embodying the character that made The Shape all too real and terrifying and influenced every actor who donned the mask in the decades that followed.
“I don’t know where that came from,” he admits, “but that idea that he would be very deliberate in his movements, it was very obvious to me, and I didn’t need much more than that. The character was very much a Frankenstein’s monster to me. He moved slowly, deliberately…you couldn’t really see his eyes. All you can see is that horrible, blank mask.”
Flash forward 40 years. Castle had retired from filmmaking when he received a call from David Gordon Green asking if he’d be interested in making some small reprisal of the role in a new Halloween film that retconned back to that original film and Castle’s portrayal.
Castle had started making appearances on the convention circuit, and had been meeting fans, realizing just how much that original film had meant to them over the years, and he suddenly knew this was a project he had to do.
“They brought me out to South Carolina for a week and I got to hang with the cast and crew,” he said. “I got to see Jamie [Lee Curtis] again, and John [Carpenter] came down to hang out. It was like a reunion, and we had a blast.”
He is quick to point out, however, that the lion’s share of The Shape’s portrayal in Halloween 2018 is on actor and stuntman James Jude Courtney.
“If they had asked me to come down and do the whole role,” he said, “it would have been a very different thing to consider. Having to be on set at 2 am, get ‘stabbed’ by this guy, do this, do that. The guy who does all that hard work is James Courtney, and he’s amazing. He was the one getting chairs thrown at him at 2 in the morning.”
With the film in the can, he was excited to see audience reactions, and it also brought him back to the world of red carpet premieres for the first time in many years.
It was exciting, and even more so that he got to share it with his family.
“It was crazy!” he said. “I got to bring my two sons and their wives. The wives had never experienced going to a big opening and taking them there and to the premiere party was just a lot of fun.”
Halloween is already available on digital streaming services and hits Blu-Ray and DVD this week on Tuesday, January 15, 2019.